by Kobe Jacobs, ACS Literary Scholar
Ron Luff holds the record for having played the most games at the Burwood Cricket Club, a club which has seen many players over its 150-year history. Luff still remains heavily involved with the cricket club due to his family ties.
Ron’s introduction to cricket was very different to most who take up junior cricket. At the age of eight, Luff was already playing in Burwood’s Under 16 team, as that was the only junior side the club had. This wasn’t a problem for the young Luff at the time as he had a deep love for the game.
His appreciation of cricket was instilled in him through his father, who also played for Burwood.
“I was born in Burwood, my Dad played for Burwood and we grew up two streets away from the Burwood cricket ground so I’ve kind of always been in that area.
“With Dad playing, I was always getting dragged along every Saturday to watch both him and his friends.”
Like many cricketers, most transition from junior cricket to senior cricket when nearing the end of their teenage years.
At 18, Luff started his senior career in Burwood’s third eleven, where he was able to win his first premiership in his first year.
Having shown some promise with the ball throughout his first stint as a Burwood senior, Luff was then brought up to the First XI.
“I won the bowling averages for the Firsts in my first year and then I got recruited to District Cricket club Hawthorn East Melbourne.
Only serving a two-year stint for Hawthorn East Melbourne, Luff decided to return to Burwood to play for several years. His deep connection with the club has developed into much more throughout the years.
Reflecting on the many memories he has shared with the club he loves so much, there is one that sticks out for him. It was when he was able to play on the same team as his daughter Chloe, who was 16 at the time.
“We were the first father-daughter combination, which was very rare back then.
“This was 16 years ago and girls weren’t playing much cricket back then compared to the level they are now, we’ve now got four female teams at Burwood.”
Luff hopes that his club can once again have another Burwood side featuring both a daughter and father in the same team, it hasn’t happened since both he and Chloe took the field together.
Also a proud grandfather, Luff has a grandson Rory aged 13 who is currently a junior cricketer. He hopes that one day he will be able to share the field again with his daughter, but this time, also with his grandson.
“I think Rory will be a handy cricketer and Chloe has gone back to playing so we are going to try and get the three of us in the same team so we’ll see how that goes.”
Drifting away from his time a Burwood, Luff has been fortunate enough to share some memorable moments with the two teams he represented at the premier level in Northcote and North Melbourne.
When at Northcote, Luff was able to experience sharing the new ball with Rodney Hogg. The pair also played together at Willowfest, a competition held in Mildura over the Christmas period.
Being structured as a 50-over format, the competition held five games in five days which provided both district and state-level players with some intense training over a period where most would usually have a break. There he was able to play with some talented cricketers.
“I was able to play against Aravinda de Silva and Paul Reiffel and a fair few Shield players, those sorts of memories are still highlights.
“It was always a lot of fun to play with somebody who has played Test cricket and is as mad as a cut snake. Rod Hogg was just a different cat.”
“To be opening the bowling with someone like that was amazing, it’s something you can’t replicate in suburban cricket.”
Luff has also ventured into other avenues of the game as a means to help out the clubs he has represented. He served a stint as Vice-President at Burwood and was the bowling coach at North Melbourne.
Giving back to the game is something Luff finds important, having played in an era (as a junior) where there wasn’t much help to go around.
“The only time you got any help was when you went to senior training because at junior training there wasn’t a whole lot.
“I always thought, well, it helps if I can give back and try to help some of the young kids.”
Now a regular in Burwood’s Fourths, Luff spends most of his Saturdays imparting some of his wisdom to young players aiming to play higher grades of senior cricket.
He enjoys standing at mid-off teaching young bowlers all of the aspects there are to the art of bowling.
“For me to be able to give them 50-odd years of experience when they are 15 and 16 is great for them.
“It’s really rewarding, I don’t mean that in an arrogant way in saying it’s great for them but I do it because I find it really rewarding as well.”
At 65 years of age, Luff doesn’t intend to leave the game anytime soon, instead, he still enjoys slapping on the whites each Saturday and even representing the Australian Cricket Society.
And as an opening bowler, Luff’s competitive edge hasn’t faded away, his outlook on the skill of taking the new ball is as fierce as ever.
“I’m still a really competitive person and as an opening bowler, if you’re not competitive you’re not going to be any good.
“But I also the love camaraderie of the game, some of my current best friends are guys that I’ve been playing cricket with since the age of 18 so that’s what keeps me going.
“At 65 you still try to run in hard and bowl as fast as you can, all be it slow these days but there’s a level of fitness to it and I enjoy that side of the game too.”
Australian Cricket Society’s literary scholar Kobe Jacobs is mentored by writer John Harms. His pieces are also published at www.footyalmanac.com.au .